SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 31 October 2019

Hands-On Protection for Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers


Law enforcement and corrections officers face many hazards in their work, and they rely on personal protective equipment to perform their jobs safely. Whether this equipment works or not can mean the difference between life and death. Performance standards are key to ensuring that equipment works as expected. Compared with helmets and body armor, gloves may seem somewhat insignificant; however, that is not the reality. Officers face serious injury to their hands from sharp cutting or stabbing implements and hypodermic needles. While only one in 50,000 U.S. officers is killed by a firearm, one in three will suffer a needlestick injury during a pat down or other search, and 28 % will suffer at least two needlesticks during their careers. The danger is that needles and other sharp implements being encountered are very possibly contaminated with infectious diseases. This is the unfortunate reality these officers face and having the right protective gloves on their hands and specifications to utilize when purchasing these gloves can be that difference in someone's life and livelihood. In addition to protecting against hazards, officers wearing gloves need to be able move their fingers, press a trigger, and feel those hazards they are trying to protect themselves from with their hands. So, there is a balance between protection and functionality. This paper describes the research and development that serve as the basis for a protective gloves specification, including understanding end-user operational needs and requirements and the hazards they face. This understanding guided the establishment of performance requirements and selection of test methods. Along with the specification, there are two companion standards: a conformity assessment practice to verify whether gloves meet the standard and an end-user guide to explain what the specification means and how to procure gloves that meet the standard.

Author Information

Battisti, Amanda
Warwick Mills, New Ipswich, NH, US
Robinson, Casandra
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
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Developed by Committee: E54
Pages: 195–215
DOI: 10.1520/STP161420180046
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7674-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7673-7